GISH 2021

GISH 2021 is a wrap. We had a fantastic time, faced some challenges, learned some things.

This was my first year as a team captain and, no surprises, I really liked that. As I said in one of our team meetings, literally the only thing I’m good at is facilitating other people’s creative processes, I might as well gish it.

My team this year (name: My Lord of Duckingham) consisted of some Michigan folks who have done it before, local friends, people who used to live near me but moved away, and a few newbies from my team at MoveOn, and also a random stranger who saw my public post looking for people to join (I’m so glad she was brave enough to reach out). This was such a fun team to work with. People had a wide range of skills, from engineering to cryptography to makeup art. We were in a good position to tackle a challenging list.

In the end, by one team member’s count, we completed items worth around 2800 points, which is downright respectable. More than the points, though, we had a good time and it was for a good cause.

Here are some of my favorite items that my family and I did.

Young ukuleleist helped out with this one, which he thought was hilarious. It’s International Lost in Translation Karaoke night & you’re up next! Choose an English-language song and translate it into at least 3 different languages using Google Translate, then back to English (a language with some of the most arbitrary rules and inconsistencies on the planet). Then sing the resulting lyrics.

When I saw this item, I knew I had to do it: In the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams,” they say, “If you build it, he will come,” prompting the main character to build a baseball field. Create your own Field of Dreams in your yard or on your kitchen table and show what your field of dreams would be a catalyst for — what would you resolve, wish-fulfill, or achieve? – by Monica D.

Because, you know, I have my own field of dreams. Dallas, Kirsten, Irene, Sallie, and Petra helped me stage a dream.

friends staging a random fairy scene on my porch/stage

I just watched Disney’s Secrets of the Whales, which was absolutely mind-blowing, so when I saw this item, I wanted to take action on it: Tokitae the orca was captured from the Puget Sound 50 years ago and has been imprisoned in a small tank at the Miami Sea Aquarium for years, Her mother and the rest of her pod are alive and living near Washington/Canada. The Lummi tribe has a sea pen ready for her and want to bring her home, where the tribe and her pod can care for her and prove that orcas will recognize and accept family even after 50 years, but the owner of the Miami Seaquarium won’t let her go. Write a haiku with a watercolor image of Tokitae about family belonging together and post it to social media. Tag the @Miami_Seaquarium & #GISH. – Chazlyn L.

Jackie Frid is a brilliant artist, so I teamed up with her to make this painting/poem.

Orca painting with haiku:
Wisdom of ocean
Our us-ness is our being
Division is death

Petra helped me out with this one: (TIMELAPSE) You need to practice your music AND your painting, but you’re nothing if not efficient: Paint a landscape while playing a violin, cello, trombone, or other musical instrument that has a moving part when played. The paintbrush should be attached to the moving part so as you play, you paint.

I used to play the violin a lot, but stopped prioritizing it when I left undergrad. Getting it back out was fun, especially discovering how much I still remembered. My tone and bow control aren’t as good as they were, but so much of the muscle memory was still intact.

I also was pretty excited about this one, which was a combination of two items. The first item was to make a shirt with a message of support for the LGBTQA+ community, using Jello as dye. It extremely didn’t work, which led me to the second one: (UP TO 2 MINUTES) In December 2020, we challenged Gishers to a #GISHPersonalChallenge, tackling something they’ve always wanted to do or learn but had put off. Show us what you’ve accomplished in the last 8 months in an epic Rocky-style montage. If no one on your team has taken the challenge, start now and show us what you learn this week.

Shout-out to this team’s amazing code-cracking skills. I’ve never been on a team that tackled the crypto questions with such intensity before, and I loved it. The puzzle slacks were firing on all cylinders, and everyone who was working on those had their own different approaches. Truly, teamwork makes the dreamwork.

I had a difficult and chaotic week at home, but GISH was a ray of sunshine. I enjoyed it more than I had since my first year. I think this is because I had people geographically nearby to work on some of the things with. Dallas and Kirsten and I didn’t do many items together, but we did a few, and that made it feel like a grounded, connected experience. I think next year, I might try to organize a team made up of pods of 2-3 geographically collocated people.

One thing that I always find striking about GISH is how everyone thinks everyone else did so great. I look at other people’s submissions and I think, “Wow, I definitely could not have done that at all!” Sometimes it’s easy to ignore our own achievements because they seem easy. After all, we did them. My favorite response to this came out of our team slack on the last day:

Screenshot from slack:
David: I'm on board with wrap-up. I'm clearly not primary GISH material, but there's tons of fun stuff to be had here, and I'm grateful for the little bit I was able to do. I'd just like to know more what the week was like for you heavy-hitters.
Schuyler: David you built a f***ing bridge.

Ya’ll, he totally did:

In addition to being an artist, scientist, and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci was also an architect. He created a “self-supporting bridge,” a very strong structure that could be quickly assembled without using any fasteners. Recreate Leonardo’s bridge, building a span of at least 3 meters over an obstacle using only multiple pieces of wood. No nails, fasteners, rope, or glue.

I think that is going to be my new response when people are down on their own GISH achievements: “David, you built a f***ing bridge.”

That’s all I’ve got on this truly fantastic year. Looking forward to GISHing again in 2022!

GISH you were here!


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